Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fantasy injury update

Mike Laws (undisclosed lower-body injury) walked to work yesterday but will refrain from doing so again pending improvement in his condition, which is not thought to be serious but is somewhat bothersome to the lad,'s Le'Chaim Slaw reports.

SPIN: While the mystery ailment, which is believed to involve the tibialis anterior, could derive from any of various stressful activities to which this jackass subjects himself on a weekly basis — an awkward decelerative maneuver during today's 6 a.m. pickup-hockey session at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex, perchance, or improperly performed lunges the night preceding (to say nothing of the admittedly idiotic beach bonfire-jumping competition of Friday last in Ocean City, Md.) — it is hoped by both the Blueliners of Laurel, Md.'s Gardens Ice House and the Wombats of the aforementioned Kettler Iceplex that the center/winger-cum-tragically devoted Orioles fanatic will recover in time for this weekend's slate of (largely meaningless, early-season) men's league hockey match-ups.

ADVICE: We wouldn't bench the kid just yet, though do keep an eye on him; this sort of whiny, self-obsessed drivel points to his being a more or less total pussy.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

In defense of napping

No, the whole dust-up surrounding the report that Ken Griffey Jr. was asleep in the Seattle Mariners clubhouse when called on to pinch-hit over the weekend doesn't have anything to do with the Orioles — aside from the fact that said Mariners are currently in Baltimore for a three-game set, that is.

Hell, I'll take it. It's not like there's anything new to say about the O's, who are still booting balls and losing games and, in two-out RBI situations, looking about as comfortable as an Englishman on a nude beach.

So I hope you'll indulge me for a moment while I step up onto my soapbox ...

My feeling about Griffey slam-dancing with the Sandman mid-Mariners game is essentially this:


First of all, I don't think this would be a big deal even if it'd involved one of the game's lesser lights — like, say, a middle reliever from Kansas City or that sixth Molina brother or anyone batting sixth through ninth in the Baltimore lineup. (And if it'd been Manny Ramirez, you can bet your ass folks in Boston or L.A. or wherever he's currently making a mockery of our pastime would've already shrugged and chalked it up to — ugh — "Manny being Manny.")

But in the case of Ken Griffey Jr., dude's earned it.

Look at it my way. I'm an inveterate napper. I've been at my current job now for three and a half years, during which time I've proven myself more than adept at whatever work's come my way (which, breathe a sigh of relief, I won't bore you with the details of). I didn't sneak naps at first — probably not for the first two and a half years, even. But now I've got absolutely zero issue with ducking down for a quick Z at my desk. Don't even care when I wake and lift my woozy head only to find a full-force flooger extending from my lower lip down to the forearm on which it'd previously rested.

Point being, Mike Laws : his job  ::  Ken Griffey Jr. : professional baseball, and we're both allowed to nap if we're knackered and not busy and need to recharge our own personal Duracells.

But the bigger issue here is that baseball, let's face it, can be really, intensely, undeniably fucking boring. Anyone who's sat in a press box every day over a whole summer can tell you that — tell you how, despite their love of the sport, they'll still show up at the park each evening, arrange their notes, fill in their scorecards, open their laptops, then pray for a 1-0 pitchers' duel. Get this thing over ASAP. My guess is the players (who, after all, have shown up at the park far, far earlier than your typical newspaperman) don't feel much differently.

And let's not forget the alternative to catching a quick clubhouse nap. If you're going to mandate that your players be wide awake for each and every inning of all 162 games season in and season out — even the rarely called-on relievers, the bench players, that sixth outfielder who doesn't even bother with BP anymore — you can expect some pretty unsavory behavior. Remember the whole "greenies" issue? Remember how much it turned out ballplayers enjoyed a good line of the ol' Bolivian marching powder to ward off boredom and fatigue? You might prevent players' napping, but soon enough you'll be forced to listen to Felix Pie telling Craig Tatum all about snowflakes being the key to the fifth dimension.

So let's give Griffey a break. He was sleeping. Alone. And not in a room featuring portraits of himself as a centaur.

Friday, May 7, 2010

An alien in orange

They're out there.

On a park bench on a path on the Mall — under canopied cover of leafy summer green, thick dark tangled green splashed with ocher-tone where the unruly oblique light slashes through — there they silently sit, lipless and snarling and backlit by the setting sun, they're all teeth, the rest is shadow at this sinister hour.

You latch onto the things that give them away, the facts of their being that not even the collusion of light and haze and shadow, not even the craning reptilian contortions of their heads atop their necks, can conceal: neon shorts unveiling knobby knees, neon fanny-packs slack and limp like a synthetic second gut, cheap plasticene visors probably procured only hours earlier from a nearby vendor.

You have to remind yourself: These are creatures of harmless comfort, pudgy and soft with late-middle age, ladies with varicose veins and carbuncular pre-cancerous skin-tags who've sought out this place to sit in the shade — this twilit respite from screaming kids and photo-crazed Japanese tourists and sad-eyed, slow-moving vets hawking their wares, their pins and T-shirts and sew-on patches: VFW, RIP, POW-MIA.

You have to stop doing this to yourself — selecting as your soundtrack for the long walk home these icy, glass-encased anthems, Mirrored by Battles, "Echoes" by Pink Floyd, austere atonal dirges like alien laments for our doomed, dying planet — and what's worse, these are funeral marches with real climaxes that never fail to synchronize in some fatidic way with the long walk itself: how "Echoes" chugs up and out of chaotic cacophony and into that final verse just as you stride out of the forest and onto the huge flat tiles below the Lincoln Memorial; how Battles' "Tonto" coalesces into its mammoth stomp precisely as you separate from the madding crowd and pivot to get your first view of the Memorial Bridge back to Virginia.

Because up until that point, when you've left behind all the tubby tourists in their bright clothes and the packs of Neoprene'd joggers and the screeching kids on their field trips — when you're heading back to the Old Dominion on the leg of the walk where you're unlikely to encounter another living soul and you're on those disused cracked sidewalks and the music's taken another turn — it's too easy to forget who's been the alien all along, isolated under wraparound headphones and behind Saigon-mirror shades in his orange Nike Dri-Fit, his worn rubber soles.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mail time!

I never thought I'd be saying this about a 7-and-18 team, but I have nothing to complain about today — not after the Orioles completed a weekend sweep of not just any team, not the Royals or A's or Indians, but the Red Sox — and did so in dramatic fashion, a pair of 10-inning barn-burners bookending the three-game set and a wild, 12-9 slugfest providing the sweet, sweet meat in this particular grinder.

Which, of course, meant a lot of red-eyed Red Sox fans hanging their heads on the way out the gates on Eutaw Street. Fenway South this ain't, kid. Your team looks wicked awful.

Anyway, in lieu of the usual self-pitying splenetic venting, and on the heels of a real interview with yours truly in re: this ridiculous and ill-conceived idea for a blog, I thought I'd answer a handful of questions I've received from you, beloved readers. Don't say I never did anything for ya.

Are you really watching every inning of every game? Aaron Blake, Washington, D.C.

Fuck, no! Aren't the long walks to work and repetitive exercises punishment enough? You think I actually want to pay attention to this team? Nah, brah, if there's anything else worth watching on TV — a Penguins playoff game, an MS telethon, reruns of "Saved by the Bell: The New Class" — that's what I'll be doing from 7 to 10 most nights. Then in the morning, I'll go find a box score and add up the walks issued, errors committed, strikeouts against, GIDPs, etc., and get down to business.

What do you do for weekend games? — Elsbeth Mantler, Baltimore, Md.

Well, Els, as you well know, I'm something of a closet karaoke freak, and come Friday that freak flag gon' fly. Which usually means sublime renditions of Sublime at Summers. Which usually means I'm in no shape to do any walking or working out on a Saturday morning. Point being, I've decided to give myself Friday and Saturday games off, as I don't work weekends anyway and thus couldn't be expected to walk downtown following a loss. Sunday games do, however, count against me — and remember, this is a team that, over the past two seasons, has gone a combined 14-and-37 on Sundays.

What if it's raining during your walk? — Ambassador Henry Imbabwetumba, Yamoussoukro, Côte d'Ivoire

I'll just do what the pros do and postpone the walk for a later date — possibly even a double-header, in which case I'll walk both to and from work, burning calves and battered feet be damned! Speaking of which, I'm also now greatly looking forward to days the Orioles have off — just like the players themselves, I'm betting.

In any event, the MO here is to keep a running tally of rain-delayed walks; currently my magic number is two. I do likewise for the exercises, as I've been advised that one shouldn't engage in such lifting every single day of the week. I currently "owe" seven sets, which figure I'll add to tonight's totals — sure to be hefty (no pun intended), as CC Sabathia's pitching — and blast out in the a.m.

If the Orioles sweep the Yankees or Red Sox, shouldn't you give yourself a day off from walking, like a Get out of Jail Free card? — Chad Ford, Salisbury, Md.

Best idea I've heard in a long time. My magic number is now, officially, one.

Thanks, BoSox!